A RETIRED couple with serious medical problems were taken to prison this morning for half-an-hour for not paying their TV licence.
John Young (65) and his wheelchair-bound wife Angela (63) both faced jail after failing to raise a fine of €600 each.
The couple, from Cushlawn Park in Tallaght, presented themselves to Tallaght garda station at 9am today.
They were met by a community sergeant and brought by taxi to the Dochas Centre and Mountjoy Prison, where they were taken in at 9.50am.
Prison officers took down the couple's details were taken by prison officers but they were allowed to go home after a short period of detention.
Angela emerged from the Dochas Centre after less than 30 minutes later.
“They were all lovely people in there and treated me with respect, and after they took my details they told me I was free to go,” Angela told the Herald.
“It's all been a waste of time and taxpayers' money really,” she added as the taxi fare racked past the €50 mark.
“Our house was flooded three times in the bad weather in recent years, and getting a licence went out of our minds.”
Mr Young, who is awaiting a hip replacement, said the first he heard about the TV licence problem was a final notice letter he received about a month ago.
And ironically the couple will be entitled to a free TV licence because John – who is on disability allowance – turned 66 last week.
The couple faced jail because they could not pay a €1,200 fine in relation to not having a licence.
“I get €207 per week pension and Angela gets €188 long-term sickness benefit,” John told the Herald.
“There's not a chance we can come up with the €1,200. If I had the money, I'd pay it.”
John needs the use of a crutch to get around, while Angela, a diabetic, is confined to a wheelchair.
Local gardai called to their home last Saturday morning to collect the fine, and when the Youngs told them they did not have it they were told they would have to attend the station today.
“I'm glad today is over now – it was the longest few minutes of my life,” Angela said.
John admits to not having a TV licence in the periods mentioned in the notice, but says the final notice was the first he can recall getting.
By Conor Feehan